AFC Rushden & Diamonds produced a dominant performance to defeat Stewarts & Lloyds Corby 3-0 at the Dog & Duck on Tuesday evening. After an opener from Matt Gearing that was the Diamonds 200th goal in their senior game history, the second came from Alfie Taylor who equalled his goal total from last season as he won a penalty, saw his spot-kick saved, but then put in the loose ball.
The scoring was completed when Alfie Taylor converted a Sam Brown cross in the second period, and thus score his 23rd goal of the season.
Diamonds Manager was faced with three of his back four being unavailable due to suspension, injury and work commitments, but in response he made a change in formation, playing a back three of Brown, Deakin and Gillingwater, with Brad Harris in a deep holding midfield role allowing Séan McBride to play the central role and Aaron King to push up to support the strikers, Greg Ling made his home debut on the left, with Russ Dunkley returning to partner Alfie Taylor up front. Both Dunkley and King carried knocks into the game, and the Diamonds had to field an inexperienced bench that, as well as Ben Morgan and Deven Ellwood, included Rashid Koriya and Kyle Davison-Gordon, plus Adam Whybrow, so none of them had started in the league this season.
The Diamonds quickly established their dominance in the game, although the quality of their finishing did not match the rest of their performance. Early misses came from Harris, King, McBride and Gillingwater, with Aaron King also hitting the base of the post after good work from Dunkley. With the ball also cleared off the line, and keeper Allen called into action on several occasions the Diamonds were dominant. Midway through the half the Diamonds finally took the lead, when a free-kick was worked to Alex Deakin, whose effort was cleared off the line, but it fell to Matt Gearing whose shot took a deflection on the way into the net.
Greg Ling was getting into the play more and more as the half went on, and he had a shot tipped onto the post by Allen as the Diamonds threatened a second goal, and then had a header hooked away by a defender.
With the half-time break approaching the Diamonds needed a second goal, and it came from Alfie Taylor. As he ran towards the left-hand side of the area he was challenged by Danny Pownall, and referee Jarrett pointed to the penalty spot. Taylor stepped up to take the penalty knowing that the Diamonds had already missed spot-kicks this season, but he too saw his effort well saved, but keeper Allen was unlucky to see the rebound fall to the alert Taylor who prodded home the loose ball for his 22nd goal of the season – equalling last season’s tally.
The Diamonds had a further penalty claim before the break, when Matt Gearing appeared to be fouled – a claim that many thought looked more blatant than the one they had been awarded, but although the referee and his assistant both appeared well-placed, neither of them signalled for the spot kick.
The half ended with the best chance the visitors had created, with Tom Cross doing well to tip an effort from Richard Moore onto the post.
Half-Time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2 Stewarts & Lloyds Corby 0
The second half started in similar fashion, with the Diamonds dominant. Aaron King was having a good game in his more forward role, and he was involved with many of the forward moves as the Diamonds full-backs were more restricted in coming forwards whilst playing in a back three – although he did struggle to find the target with a number of shooting chances. Both McBride and Harris also played their part as the Diamonds continued to sweep forwards.
Jake Gillingwater and Alex Deakin were sharing the duty of going forwards for corners and free-kicks, and Gillingwater saw an effort blocked and another well saved. Russ Dunkley had been creating chances for much of the game, but started to focus more on trying to get the third goal himself as the game wore on, seeing a couple of efforts narrowly miss the goal, and another saved by Allen. There was also another claim for a penalty and some good last-ditch defending as the Diamonds failed to increase their lead in the third quarter.
After 78 minutes the Diamonds made the game completely safe when good midfield work freed Sam Brown on the left, and his cross was met by Alfie Taylor who netted his second goal of the game.
There was then time to rest the players carrying knocks as well as for a league debut for Rashid Koriya as the game ended with little further incident apart from a good move involving Gillingwater and McBride seeing the ball cleared off the line once again.
Full-Time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 3 Stewarts & Lloyds Corby 0
The Diamonds host Long Buckby on Saturday afternoon.
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
Stewarts & Lloyds Corby
17. Tom Cross
2. Jake Gillingwater
3. Sam Brown
4. Sean McBride
5. Brad Harris
6. Alex Deakin
7. Matt Gearing
8. Aaron King
9. Russ Dunkley (c)
10. Alfie Taylor
11. Greg Ling
12. Ben Morgan (for Dunkley 84)
13. (GK) Adam Whybrow
14. Rashid Koriya (for Ling 86)
15. Deven Ellwood (for King 79)
16. Kyle Davison-Gordon
1. David Allen
2. Adam Saunders
4. Billy Shepherd
5. Danny Pownall (c)
6. Kieran Malone
7. Connor Kennedy
8. Milan Ceko
9. Richard Moore
10. Jay Arnold
11. Mark Hackett
12. John Dean (for Duncan 64)
14. Kealan Wyllie (for Arnold 80)
15. Sean King (for Moore 80)
Goals: Gearing (24),Taylor(39/78)
Yellow Cards: None
Yellow Cards: None
Referee: Mr David Jarrett
Assistant Referees: Mr Daniel Glazewski & Mr Andrew Tweedale
Updated player profiles with appearance and goalscoring details are now available.